Porto in Two and a Half Days

By Blonde Bowhemian - June 19, 2017

After a few days in Lisbon, we then took the train to Porto, a coastal city in northern Portugal, but more importantly, the home of port wine. Although I think Lisbon was more beautiful and tourist-friendly, in Porto I could really get a sense of the personality of the town and felt as though people actually lived there. We stayed in an Airbnb right along the river in southern Porto by the Ponte Luis I, which enabled us to walk easily into the center of town and head across the bridge to the port producers in Vila Nova de Gaia. 

Here's what we squeezed into our two and a half days:

Cais da Ribeira - This is the riverfront street packed with cafes, shops, pastelarias, and bars. There's abundant outdoor seating with plenty of street musicians and artists. There's also great views across the river to all of the port producers. Seeing as we were staying right down the road, we went down here for dinner most nights. We really wanted to eat at Jimao Tapas but didn't make reservations early enough so learn from our mistake! We ended up a little up the road at Tapas 65 and although the wait was long, the sangria while we waited definitely helped! The next night we had a great meal at Ribeira Square. We also fit in a port tasting at Portologica one night after dinner, which was so much fun and a great way to great a brief overview of port before our tour to the Duoro Valley the next day.

Douro Valley - Speaking of, we did a full day tour to the Duoro Valley with Cool Tours. The Duoro Valley is where port wine is made and was without a doubt one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen and an absolute highlight of our time in Portugal. We began the day by taking some photos and visiting the small river town of Pinhao. Then, we made our way up the windy, narrow roads to a small port and olive oil producer who showed us the old way of producing both. This was followed by a tasting on their deck with unbelievable views of the valley. Afterwards, we headed back down to the river and did a one hour boat ride along the river and back. Then we had lunch with the group before driving about 30 minutes to another port producer on the other side of the river. Here we saw the modern way of producing port and tasted more of it before heading back to Porto. I honestly wish we spent more days in the valley just taking in the view and relaxing.

Vila Nova de Gaia - This is the town just across the river from Porto and where we were staying. We walked across the Ponte Luis I and had fantastic views of both Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Across the bridge there is also an old monastery that we briefly checked out before walking back down to the riverfront. Along this side, all of the Duoro Valley port producers have spaces where they give tours and tastings. After a quick lunch at Duoro Velho, right on the water, we did a great tour at Calem, followed by a tasting, as well as a tasting at Sandeman. There was definitely no shortage of alcohol over these few days! (Just as a note - you may want to reserve a spot in a tour ahead of time, we didn't at Calem but many other places were filled ahead of time.) There are also plenty of artisans along the river so we strolled past their stands on our way to the Teleferico de Gaia, a gondola that takes you up to the top of the bridge (it's super high up!). Although it was kind of overpriced, we didn't want to trek back up the hill in the heat.

We loved our time in Porto and I would definitely recommend it to anyone planning a trip to Portugal!

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